Feb18–VIR–NASA–Part2-CompSchool

Hello FastLap followers, it has been a busy spring so far so I apologize for the delay in updates.

Much of the offseason (Dec-Feb) was spent with final race prep to the 2003 BMW M3 #72 I planned to begin racing. Kill switch, Fire Suppression System, Window & Center Net, Motorola 2way Radio setup (for communicating with Crew Chief & Spotter during races), larger switch panel and a few other race required details along with a full refresh of the suspension components, wheel bearings, etc.

Feb 18th was NASA MidAtlantic’s first Competitive Licensing School of the year and upon successful completion you were allowed to participate in your first races that weekend as a Provisionally Licensed driver. Complete 4 races clean and get your official hard card license, complete 8 races clean and clear yourself of rookie status (R’s next to your #’s & a bright orange rookie plate on the rear of the car).

I passed comp school with flying colors, being challenged by but enjoying the discussions and drills associated with the licensing school. NASA’s comp school is more of a long test day than an actual school like other organizations have. There are certain criteria you must meet before you are even allowed to participate in their compschool, including a fair number of days in Advanced DE, a fully prep’d race car (you can rent one) and signoff by the Race Director for the region.

That Friday Feb 18th was an exhausting day. 4 x 40min sessions on track, 4 x 60min class room sessions, and intentionality little to no break. Students were joined by seasoned racers during the track sessions (on track with you, not in car with you) to evaluate you. The seasoned racers while keeping a close eye on all the students for evaluation liberally “mixed it up” with you during the drills… ie basic harassment to ensure each
student could keep a cool head.

I’ve turned a couple laps here and there totally offline during DE sessions and have had quite a few days experience passing in corners in advanced DE sessions but nothing had compared me for what comp school puts you through.

First session instructions were: 40 minute session, 20 minutes using only the left side of the track and 20 minutes using only the right side, drive at 9/10ths the entire time and no cheating in corners as the corner workers were instructed to radio in cars crossing the center line at any time and seasoned racers
were on track with you driving wherever they felt as they watched the students closely. 40 minutes of driving 9/10ths on parts of the track I’ve never seen before, wow – that was exhausting.

Now an hour of classroom, then on track session #2. Instructions, 40 minute session, 20 minutes on the right, side by side with an experienced racer in a similarly performing car, then 20 minutes on the left, side by side with the same racer — oh and if you (as the student) don’t keep up with the racer, black mark
to you! Nervous driving that 9/10ths with someone next to you? Play it safe and leave lots of room between you and your partner … nope, you were warned, if that happens another random racer would join you by sliding in between you and your partner for some 3 abreast action! It was amazing how quickly you become
comfortable with another car right beside you – this drill was fantastic as it built on the first on-track session.

short break for lunch, more class room and on track session #3 – this time leap frog drills with your partner. Instructions were, take turns passing each other going into Turns 1,4,10,OakTree & 14 (this was at VIR). After 40 minutes of passing 5x per lap I was tired, that is a lot of concentration and your experienced
racer partner didn’t make the passes “easy” either, you had to battle for them with increasingly more effort as the session progressed.

More class room, session 4 was race starts, 2 standing, 2 rolling followed by a 20min mock race … yup the experienced racers were out with us during the starts and race to make it more “exciting”.

Pic of additional class and rookie livery while tearing it up during the mock race at CompSchool.

It was now about 5pm, you are mentally and physically drained from the day of class and drills – time for a written test! first page was a bunch of multiple choice questions mostly with flags, passing rules and at-fault incident rules. The second page was essay situation based – for example, if there was a car off track at the
exit of T3 and an emergency vehicle between T2 and T3 what flag or flags would you expect to see at each of the flag stands 1 and 2.

My class of 12, 11 of us passed. We were told that our class was one of the highest % passing rate for many years. Weak on-track performance noted by either your racer partner or any of the track side “judges” or corner workers, or a non-passing score on the written test would be grounds for failure.

All and all, I felt the NASA-MA CompSchool, for being a 1 day school, did an excellent job of preparing and evaluating student readiness to race. Last year there were many people encouraging me to sign of for comp school and start racing, I’m glad I stuck to my original plan and waited until I had nearly 100 track days
under my belt. Had I tried that school after 40 days I think I would have been completely overwhelmed and failed.

Feb18-20 – VIR – NASA – Part1

Mary writes …

The first event for 2011! Kyle was scheduled for comp school to start the new season and I was signed
up for time trials. The plan for me this year is to try to walk away as the 2011 Mid-Atlantic TTB champ!!

Kyle and Barry Battle headed down on Thursday night – he had comp school on Friday. I decided to work and get there in the evening, missing out on Friday’s open track day.

I was so excited for this event after what seemed to be a long wait during the winter (although
technically it was only about 9 or 10 weeks!). However, I was disappointed to learn that I was the only
one running in the TTB class- no one to compete with, and not able to win any tires!

I shook off the dust on Saturday; only doing 2:16 laps when my previous best was a 2:15 last year. I was
getting back up to speed and relearning the track. Kyle passed his comp school and had his 1st race on
Saturday taking 2nd place behind Josh Smith!! Way to go Kyle!! We head off to the awards banquet
after having our own BBQ at the trailer in the paddock along with some cold Coronas.

I push my way through the crowd being prepared to take photos of Kyle getting his 2nd place award
when much to my surprise, I hear MY name announced as taking 1st place in TTB! What?? I didn’t
realize they gave out awards when there is only 1 person competing! LOL. Oh well, I guess I still get to
chalk that up as a victory towards my year end goal! As a joke, I posted the plaque photo on facebook
and was mortified when the continuous congrats started rolling in over the next 24 hours! OMG- how
embarrassing but I had to just let it go….

Day 2- I manage to run a 2:15 during my 2nd session before lunch but I have my eye on doing a new
record of 2:14 before going home. The day seemed to drag a bit, having almost 5 hours to kill until I
return to the track. Kyle has a big 40 minute race in the afternoon. This was my opportunity to learn
the radios. Barry worked the start/finish line and I stood at the fence at T10 (remember this!). Here I
had a view of the ess’s, around oak tree, and most of the back straight. I would be able to give Kyle a
heads up should there be any incidents in those areas. I couldn’t imagine how exhausting it would be to
race for 40 minutes! Kyle does a fantastic job battling through this race, taking 3rd place as a rookie! I
am sure that he will share the details of his experiences.

I am now heading out for what will be my last session at 4:00, knowing that we plan to leave quickly
after I come off track and change my wheels.

Not so much… I was elated when I looked down after my 2nd lap and actually saw 2:14.3!! My best
time ever and goal for the weekend!! Hmmm…if I did that, then I must be able to find .4 seconds more
somewhere on the track to make it to 2:13. Eric Wong did a 2:13 in my car last fall so I know that it
is possible. I’m going for it!! I travel up the ess’s feeling like I am really pushing it as I feel the car get
light here and there. I had felt previously that I was over braking into T10 AND if you remember, I
watching the race from this point of view so I felt that I could carry much more speed through here. I
do a quick tap of the brake and get on the gas a quick as I can. Well, just as I am approaching the track
out, I realize that the rear got light again and I started to spin. The whole thing happened so fast that

I’m not really sure exactly how it went down but as soon as I hit the grass there was no stopping. I went
sliding sideways and right into the tire wall on the passenger side to left of the track. O-M-G! Did that
just happen?? Once I stopped and realized that I just crushed my car, I beat up the steering wheel and
yelled several choice words! The EMT/Tow arrived to drag me back. I was so embarrassed and feared
the shame of my car being paraded around the paddock for all to see my screw up! Ugh!

I felt much better when it was clear that everyone wanted to make sure that I was okay and assured me
that it has also happened to most of them as well!

Against all odds, Kyle and Barry randomly had spare parts (a much needed tie rod), and banged out the
wheel wells to make it possible for Kyle to drive it home 2 hours later. We all did get a good laugh at
how it appeared to other drivers on the highway; all smashed in down the right side.

So we did an evaluation last night to see what it will take to get my car put back together and ready for
the next March event—thankfully I am not experiencing a fear to get back in the seat but rather cannot
wait to go for that 2:13 again!!

Sept3-5 – VIR – PCA

Mary writes:
VIR……I couldn’t wait for this event!

I have only run this track 2 other times- 1st time in Nov when I was still quite “green” and the 2nd time was Zone 2 over my Bday weekend in June when we jumped in after Watkins was cancelled.

Kyle reminds me that my best time on this track is only 2:25- that is with all stock. Interior/Exterior-street tires included. The weather in June was dreadfully hot- forecast is cooler now and I have upgraded to Kyle’s old AST5100 suspension and new H&R front sway bar (noticed a big difference). I just want to go fast and do better than the last time!

1st day out- easily drop to 2:23 my 1st session out….I’m thinking-no problem- I think I can drop lots of seconds. 2nd and 3rd session- nope- doesn’t happen. Now I am very frustrated. I realize that if I can do a passenger ride, this will clearly help me see what the best line is that I should drive. I confirm that John Sullivan is going to drive my car to show me what it can do on Sat morning.

John driving #67 as we watch Kyle disappear after he wizzed by us!

John drives- he says he likes everything- the transmission is great, the brakes are awesome, but wtf with the tires-he is sliding like I was around each turn and suggests that’s the problem.

Kyle takes my car out for a few laps and agrees-too much sliding- he only made it to 2:22.

Then I switch to Kyle’s used Conti Scrubs…oh my…now I drop to 2:19! And the car looks so good with the black wheels! I think I need to get a set!

Now I am feeling like I can compete in my group. By the last day, last session- I manage to hit 2:18. A very successful FUN weekend!

As pix will show- Sally Herod and I had great fun chasing up the Ess’s. She kicked my butt- but look forward to the next time.

And as always, Rob Talastas ALWAYS makes every event a great time with along with friends

Thanks to Paul Z for arriving early enough to grab our awesome spot, and cool to hang again with Tomasz, and of course meeting Dejan. Lastly, hanging out for happing hour with the entire Miata crew.

The only thing that I missed was taking Alan Herod out with me as being one of his “star students” as he describes- hopefully I can make him proud!

Here I am winning my DE session and getting the checkered flag at the famous Oak Tree turn!

Kyle’s car is wicked fast and looked so awesome out there! It was cool to see him doing so well!

March 26-27 – NASA – VIR

Guest driver for nocabRacing, Bill Wasser writes:

1st, let me say that Kyle is truly a great friend. Even though he was obviously trying to kill me this weekend, he’s a great friend. Maybe he thought he was the beneficiary of my life insurance…dunno. Anyway, thanks. It was great!

What a weekend! Here’s my take…

Started out Friday morning. Heading out of Vienna to VIR. Kyle’s all up inside Diesel Dually Donna and Ten Ton Tina’s got a strap-on up the rear of Donna. I’m pulling a train up Tina’s rear (Get your mind out of the gutter!) “Donna’s” the truck, “Tina’s” the trailer and I’m following in the #67 Silver BMW M3.

Anyway…we head South. After 5 hours and a couple of Pit Stops we make it to VIR. 1st impression: Holy crap, I’m going to die! SO many cars. I can’t hear anything but “vvvvvrrrroooommm”. As it turns out, that’s pretty much all I heard all weekend. It’s one thing to watch a race on TV, but to see it in person is a totally different experience. We get the trailer stable and open the doors. Will (Porsche 911Turbo and a friend of Kyle’s) intro’s us to some Mustang guys. They LOVE Tina (the double-stack trailer). I’m just taking it all in. Porsche, BMW, Mustang, Ferrari, Miata, Mini’s, etc. All sorts of cars. All sorts of people. All sorts of noises. All sorts of smells. Soon enough, insanity will ensue, I fear. After a couple of hours hanging around the track, and talking and looking and taking it all in, we head to “The Lodge” for drinks and dinner. Whew! Makers Mark on the rocks was SO needed. And a meal of Veal Meatloaf. SO good. Everybody’s talking cars and engines and turns and apex…I pretty much had nothing to say, since I have no knowledge of any of it. Ok ok..enough about that.

Saturday morning:

Seriously cold. Frost on the grass. Too F’ing cold. The sun isn’t up. WHY couldn’t we do this in June?!?!? Big difference in the paddock from Friday. Many more RV’s, trailers, cars. VIR is blaring Bon Jovi on the loud speaker. Announcer: “Ding dong ding. It’s 7:15 NASA time. The all hands meeting is at 7:30” Really, dude? Could you BE more of a dork?!?!? Oh, btw, NASA – National Auto Sports Association of which I am now a card carrying member. (Is the NRA far behind?!?!?) So, the all hands meeting: Everyone is standing around listening to the announcements. I have no idea what the guy is talking about. I’m going to die. Do I really care some guy got Vagisil to sponsor him? OH!…CLEARASIL. Well…whatever.

8:00am – Class time. The instructor’s a Nazi. Again, I pretty much have no idea what he’s talking about. Flag colors? Sheesh! I’m just gonna try to stay on the damn track! I decide to start taking notes. Double-Yellow = no passing. Red = STOP immediately on the right side of the track. Meatball?!?!? WTF?!?!?! “Make sure the driver behind you has seen the flag.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? Let’s just hope I (emphasis on I) see the flag! So…just a few minutes left in class. My heart starts to pound. “Sh*t! I really have to do this!!!” Head out to the car. Kyle’s already met my instructor and prep’d the car. Chris(instructor). Good guy. We talk for a minute. I feel comfortable with him (not that I know any differently). Helmet on. (Kyle’s taking video…I try to be cool. SO NOT!) In the car. Crap, how’s this thing start again? Oh yeah, brake on…neutral..turn the key. Reverse…damn..umm..oh yeah..to the left and up. Got it. 1st gear. Ease out slowly so as not be a total idiot. Hmmm..where do we line up? I see. Wait..what are all these other cars doing here? Oh no. In line. 5 minutes to go. Chris is chattering in my ear about something. What? Yeah, whatever you say. Uh oh, the 1st line is moving. Heart is racing. 2nd line (my line) starts moving. Chris tells me to go. Umm…I don’t think so. Ok ok. I start moving. Out on the track. Stay to the right of the line. 60mph already??!?!?! It’s been like 5 secs. Into turn 1. Traffic. Chris is not happy. Too slow. 20mph around turn 2. “Ok, Bill. We’ll make a couple of laps to get used to it, then we’ll pit to let the traffic go by. We’ll have an open track and you can run this baby.” Ummm…yeah…whatever you say, Chris. Turns out…BEST thing. Open track was MUCH better to get used to this crazy idea. 1st heat I hit, what I think is, 120mph. Learning the lines. Listening to Chris’ instructions. Turn. Gas. Don’t brake. Go go go! Ease off. Touch the grass (as it turns out, doesn’t mean to REALLY touch the grass…then why say it?!?!!) S’s. Find the line. GO GO GO! “When I say brake, that means you brake hard!” Ok…sorry. Finish heat 1. I’m shaking. Ran a 3:03. Cool! I’m no longer a track virgin. Everyone in the paddock congratulates me. I feel good. Still shaking. Can barely light a smoke….but feel good. Awesome! “Chris, I gotta beat a 2:50.” “No problem, Bill. That’s easy.” Kyle starts the video cam and interviews me. I feel like Richard Petty (ummm..wrong reference?)

Another class. What’s this guy saying? I have no idea. Ok, time to go. 2nd heat. MUCH more comfortable (I’m gonna tear this track up!…I later learn how stupid that thought really is.) Hit the track! GO GO GO! Brake! Turn! GO GO GO! Into the back straight…130-something? Whoa. Fast. Brake! Turn! Touch the grass! Go go go! Ok..try this line, now. A little closer. Watch that car! You got the signal. Pass! Go Go Go! …..and on and on like that. Knocked 18 seconds off my previous run. Ran a 2:45! Score!

3rd heat: Ugh…I’m worn out. Shoulders are stiff. Brain is dead. “Hey, Chis, I’m kinda tired. Let’s take it easy.” Yeah…a nice leisurely drive at 130mph. It’s amazing…you get on the track and you CAN’T take it easy. You just have to go! So, I went. After a few laps I could tell I was beat. “Chris, I want to pit. I don’t feel safe. It’s not my car and I don’t want to risk injury to you.” “Wow, Bill. That’s awesome! Very manly of you.” As it turns out, we had only 1 lap to go anyway. 🙂

And here is video of a few laps from that session shot using a GoPro HD camera suction cup’d to the front windshield (thanks Kyle!)

So…off the track for the day. Learned a lot. Drove fast. Made some good turns. Learned the line. “Damn, I sure could use a bourbon.” Thank G-d for Brad and Bill (in the camper next to Ten Ton Tina). A giant bottle of Dickel. “Get a cup.” Bill says. THANK YOU! So..there I am..late afternoon..chillin’ with a bourbon…smoking a smoke..taking it all in. Here comes Chris. “Hey Kyle, my car is dead. Any chance I can take out #67 for a spin?” Kyle, “Sure, man. Have fun.” Chris, “Hey, Bill. Grab your helmet. You’re comin’ with.” Ummmm….but I’ve been drinking. “Too bad. You’re coming with.” Chris says. AND it’s the same heat that Kyle’s in. So, we’re in line. I’m seriously nervous, but trust Chris’ abilities. “Where’s Kyle?” Chris asks. I say, “3 or 4 cars up.” “Good to know”, Chris says. Bwahahaha…sorry Kyle…you’re in for it now! No..really..Kyle’s a great driver, but up against an instructor…damn! So…Chris has never driven #67 before. HOLY SH*T!!!! 157mph, I think. Braking at #1 cone (I was braking at #4 cone). THIS (see above – heat #2) is where I realized how stupid I really am. I thought I knew this track. I thought I knew how to drive. I’m a idiot! Anyway…takes him a couple of laps…and…there’s Kyle. See ya! Like the line from Top Gun. “Where’d he go? Where’d who go?!?!?” Bwahahahaha…THAT was awesome! Sure sure, Kyle said he LET us pass…I DON’T THINK SO! 🙂 So after the heat…I’m like, “Dude, that was insane!” Chris, “Bill, I hardly pushed it.” Ummmmm…..I think I’ll go throw up now.

Saturday night…MORE bourbon…Mexican dinner…and bed. 9:30pm. EXHAUSTED! (and maybe a little drunk) In bed. Kyle’s got his camera video rolling on his heats so he can evaluate. I hear Kyle say, “I’m gonna brush my teeth.” I mumble something incoherently about sparkles…or something. The next thing I knew..it was Sunday at 5am.

SATT (Sunday At The Track) –

Ok…so…call me a whimp. Just didn’t feel it. Went to the 1st class and decided I didn’t want to drive. So, I didn’t. Thank G-d for freewill.

BUT..an incredible experience. Thank you again, Kyle, for letting me join in the fun. A weekend I will NEVER forget.

Until next time….keep the pedal to the floor and the rubber side down!

Out.

note from Kyle – will add Pics & Video from the event soon.

Nov14-15 – VIR – PCC-ACNA

Mary writes:

Finally! VIR!
I have heard so much about this- we are staying above the garages; I think this is so cool!

Alan and Sally invite us to dinner with on Friday and we meet more of the instructors- more Porsche people!

Day 1- Alan has been my instructor multiple times now- I have requested him for this event- so I feel very comfortable from the start. Again- I have memorized the track (turns) from iRacing. I truly appreciate that it is what it is- a video- and only useful for learning the turns but understand the being on the track is completely different!

Alan’s patience and calmness is as always-perfect! Yes- I am messing up on certain turns; doing better on others. I listen closely to his direction but still can’t seem to get turn 3- struggle over and over on this one. Hitting the snake when I am timid at first, realize that I can take it with much more power as he convinces me and then under the bridge and up through the S’s….on to turn 10! Now I am much more confident!

Not perfect with the Oak Tree but up the straight away- he keeps me on the gas….on the gas….wait..

Stay strong on the left, sharp right-strong-quick left- still on the gas, track out- quick mini tap- down into the hog’s pen (or as I call it the pig’s pen)- no breaking out right, on the gas….and out on the straight away! I can’t swear that is the way he described it but that is what I was doing! Ha!

Day 2-I looked at my data and Kyle’s- I know that I am losing time from 1 through 4. I hit all of this much better with Alan in the car- then out for the last time when I am solo…I got sloppy- I was trying too hard to beat the time- big mistake- I had 2 tires off a couple of times- scared myself!

Let Jamie in the other M and the Lotus pass me- tried to stay close though!
It was very cool that I was able to race around with the Lotus Elise most of the weekend having fun with passing each other/ challenging each other! My best time here was 2:24 flat! Not too shabby for my 15th day ever and 1st event at VIR…?

I can say that I walked away from this weekend as my last for the season feeling fulfilled!! And look forward to next season- hopefully I will meet more people during these events and make more friends!!

Aug27-28 – VIR – TrackDaze

Kyle @ VIR … wow what a nice facility, GREAT track! Ended up being the favorite track I drove all season!